Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates has officially opened Smart Solutions’ refurbished Newport headquarters, which forms part of a £500,000 programme of investment across its network of offices across the UK.

The investment comes as the business is in the process of expanding its operations into Europe for the first time, opening a location in Krakow, Poland.

Unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the reopening of Raleigh House, in Langstone Business Park, Mr Skates was given a tour of the 6,500 sq ft building which now has cleaner and greener credentials, benefitting from a climate-controlled heating system, movement-sensor lighting and transparent glass panels in favour of office and meeting room walls.

He also heard how Smart Solutions is looking beyond the current UK-EU negotiations to offer a post-Brexit solution for non-UK workers seeking employment in Britain, in an effort to ease the predicted shortfall in labour.

This will include a ‘one-stop-shop’ for candidates, ensuring that they are equipped with direct access to employers through the predicted work permit systems and that they have the appropriate training for employment.

Ken Skates said: “The Welsh Government is proud to have supported Smart Solutions and to have facilitated its growth from a single office in Pontypool to a company that now employs more than 200 people in Newport. The newly refurbished offices will provide an excellent working environment for staff, which I am sure will help to drive up productivity.

“Our Economic Action Plan, which I launched in December, includes a real focus on strengthening our regional economies and ensuring the fruits of our prosperity fall more evenly across Wales, and the ongoing success of companies like Smart Solutions is absolutely key to this ambition.”

With up to 40 members of staff based at its head office, the refurbishment has created additional meeting rooms and hot desks to support efficient and agile working, allowing for more of its 230 staff to work from the Newport headquarters, as well as clients.

Further investment has been made in four of Smart Solutions’ high street branches, creating a bistro-style environment where recruitment candidates spend less time form filling and more time engaging with recruiters. In its new northern regional head office in Leeds, the company has moved across the city to a larger premises and it has also opened new locations in West Bromwich, Leicester and Barking.

Founded in 2007 by chief executive Nathan Bowles, Smart Solutions recently celebrated a decade in business, announcing a record turnover of £95m for the last financial year, up nine per cent from £87m in 2015-16 and rounding off 10 consecutive years of growth.

“The refurbishment programme comes as part of our wider story of 10 years of success, so to have Mr Skates take time out of his busy schedule to visit our refurbished headquarters and hear about the wider investments and expansions being made across the business is an honour,” said Mr Bowles.

“Improving our working environment is having a positive impact on our staff who have a light, bright, open space to work in. I’m also particularly proud of our company timeline that leads the stairway from the ground floor to the first floor of the office – it shows staff, clients and visitors alike the key milestones and achievements we have made in just 10 years of trading.

“At Smart Solutions, we are continually adapting our working methods to more accurately reflect and react to the needs of not just our own workforce, but the needs of clients and potential candidates. Moving forward, we have refocused our vision and strategy with a view to achieving continued growth as well as placing ourselves in the best position to deal with the challenges that face the industry in the coming months and years.”

Smart Solutions, which has a flexible workforce of more than 5,500 people, now has more than 50 locations across the UK, spanning Hull to Carmarthen and Glasgow to Hastings, where services are delivered from the high street and on site at its clients’ premises.

It works for clients in a variety of sectors, spanning manufacturing, waste and recycling, logistics, automotive and pharmaceutical. In May 2017, it was included in the London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ listing.